Happy New Year of the Dog
On Sunday was the Chinese New Year. We are now in the Year of the Dog.
One of the benefits of living in this post-modern world is that we know of many different ancient traditions. We have the freedom to draw on any of them or even on a combination of them to shine light onto the present. So I am going to combine two ancient traditions now to make some "predictions" for this new year. It's kind of like an astrological forecast, except that no astrology is involved.
I am going to combine the tradition of the Chinese New Year with Native American medicine. There is one very obvious connection between them right this moment, and that connection is the Dog. We just started the Chinese Year of the Dog. And Native Americans knew about the Dog too. One of my favorite tools are the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson. I also like to call them my "animal cards."
This is what the Dog card says, and I want all of us to take it as a context for this year:
You are so noble,
Until the bitter end,
Your medicine is the teaching,
Of true and loyal friends.
All of the Southwest and Plains Indian tribe had Dogs. These noble animals would often give warning signals of approaching danger. They helped in the hunt and were a great source of warmth on long winter nights. Since the canine tribe has many breeds, early Indian Dogs were usually half-wild. This wildness, however, never divested the owners of their Dogs' innate loyalty.
Dog has been considered the servant of humanity throughout history. If a person carries Dog medicine, he or she is usually serving others or humanity in some way. Here you will find the charity worker, the philanthropist, the nurse, the counselor, the minister, and the soldier.
Dog was the servant-soldier that guarded the tribe's lodges from surprise attack. Dog is a medicine that embodies the loving gentleness of best friend and the half-wild protector energy of territorial imperative. Like Anubis, the jackal dog protector of Egypt, Dog is a guardian. Throughout history, Dog has been the guardian of hell, as well as of ancient secrets, hidden treasures, and babies--while mothers were cooking or in the fields. Dog honors its gifts and is loyal to the trust placed in its care.
In examining Dog medicine, you might find that you have fond personal memories of owning and loving Dog as a pet. The message that Dog is trying to give you is that you must delve deeply into your sense of service to others. Canines are genuinely service-oriented animals, and are devoted to their owners with a sense of loyalty that supersedes how they are treated.
If Dog has been yelled at or paddled, it still returns love to the person who was the source of its bad treatment. This does not come from stupidity, but rather from a deep and compassionate understanding of human shortcomings. It is as if a tolerant spirit dwells in the heart of every canine that asks only to be of service.
You can also see Dogs that have had the loyalty beaten out of them. They cower and cry at thes lightest look of disapproval, but this is not their normal nature. Some varieties of Dogs have even been trained against their natures to be brutal and vicious. Out of a sense of service, these breeds have adopted the attack-oriented desires of their owners. They carry an altered genetic memory of what service means if they are to be approved of by their masters.
Dog medicine asks you to look at how readily your sense of loyalty is countermanded by your need for approval. If you have pulled the Dog card, there are several questions you need to consider, depending on the situation about which you are asking.
1) Have I recently forgotten that I owe my allegiance to my personal truth in life?
2) Is it poosible that gossip or the opinions of others have jaded my loyalty to a certain friend or group?
3) Have I denied or ignored someone who is trying to be my loyal friend?
4) Have I been loyal and true to my goals?
From Jamie Sams and David Carson, Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1988, pp. 92-94
Here is my take on it: We are all in the Year of the Dog now, so in a sense we have all pulled the Dog card. So what the card says applies to all of us at this time. With that in mind, I invite you to contemplate the following for yourself:
Investigate your loyalty towards yourself and others. When you don't disclose negative feelings towards a friend, you might think that you are being loyal to him or her. But are you really? On the other hand, if you are there for others, night after night, without tending to your own needs, you are loyal to the others, but you are not being loyal to yourself. There is a fine balance in there somewhere, and it can be found.
Recognize that you are part of a big community. Make sure that all of your personal goals are in line with the greater goals of humankind. For example, rather than focusing on all the money you will earn this year, focus on how the services that you receive the money for are going to benefit others.
If you have been wanting to make babies, make them this year. The protector spirit of the Dog will be with your babies even in the womb.
When you feel that you have been treated badly, stay compassionate and loyal to the person that treated you badly. Remember that you are not being stupid; you are simply serving the greater good. The love between a dog and a human is unconditional. See if you can love the people around you the way a dog would love you.
Don't listen blindly to any perceived "master." This master could be your partner, a friend, your mother, your boss, or someone you admire. Before you believe or act, be sure that what are you doing stems from loyalty to yourself as well as your community.
If you have a history of fear of dogs or nightmares with dogs, use this year to finally release those threatening associations. Remember that dogs in their essence are loyal servants and friends.
There, that's my Chinese Native American outlook for the Year of the Dog. I can say with certainty that all of these things apply to myself. That's how it always is, isn't it? The rest of the world--or the year--is a mirror, and that's true for everybody.